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Surgeon

The surgeon is patient and kind. “We’ll sort out your breast cancer” he says. I am a bit perplexed thinking “but I don’t have breast cancer”. At least I didn’t this morning. We don’t have the cytology results, so I still cling to hope that all the Doctors so far are wrong. Let’s not forget

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Pillows

Two years ago exactly I was swollen and tired. Each night I’d arrange pillows around my body, huge and expectant with my long wished for second child. My body was ungainly. I was exhausted and grumpy. I was 20 kg heavier than now. And yet, I was so anxiously waiting for my new baby. I

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Ode to Joy

What music do you choose when you are meeting your oncological surgeon to find out how bad things are? I sit in the waiting room and furiously google Ode to Joy. It seems curious to choose this piece. What joy is there to be had now, of all times? I find the piece of music

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Squeaking

When I walk I hear it. A faint squeak squeak … reminding me I have unwelcome jewellery. A needle with attendant plastic tubing dangles from my portacath. This is the pathway to my veins, the pathway to my heart as it sits just near it, in the largest vessel returning blood from my body to

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Sleep

I go to sleep with breast cancer, I wake with it. As I arrange my pillows around an aching arm, I try hard not to remember when I last arranged my pillows so meticulously. It was the same Time of year only two years ago, when I was seven months pregnant. I arranged cocoons of

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Rough chemo

Week three of chemo is rough. I feel nauseous and hopeless. I cry when the catheter is placed as I feel so violated. Yet I must sit there. The nausea worsens, I hyperventilate and I vomit and then retch and retch.. “I just want to curl up on the floor and die.” I tell my partner.

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Flowers

You know things are bad when flowers arrive. After the diagnosis is confirmed bunches of flowers arrive at the door. More than when my babies were born. Busy couriers come and go to the door, parcels, cards, letters, hampers and gifts pile up. Chocolate arrives regularly, but I have no appetite. My weight dips back

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Phlebotomist’s tears

And so begins two days of testing. They call it staging, in other words, how bad is it? Or, when will you die? First is a blood test. We go to a local clinic before dropping Mr 20 months to childcare. He rampages around the waiting room as my partner shepherds him towards toys. I

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Starting

“I’m starting the chemotherapy now” says the nurse, interrupting me, my eyes closed, headphones deeply clamped to my ears, head freezing from a cold cap designed to reduce chemotherapy damage to my hair follicles. I barely acknowledge her, but the tears start to roll again. I don’t watch as the poisons start to drip. This

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Deep down

Weaning has been hard. Very hard. On both of us. Things are easing, but this has been the hardest part so far. Tonight for the first time my toddler reached for his father to cuddle him to sleep instead of me. This has been his pattern for the last three weeks. He clearly told me

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I want to live long enough for Lachy and Ben to have meaningful memories of me.
Joanna Griffith